House inquiry on national ID project eyed as problems persist

A ranking congresswoman wants the House of Representatives to investigate the utilization of billions worth of government funds on the delay-ridden Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) project, or the national ID project.

Marikina City 2nd district Rep. Stella Quimbo (Ellson Quismorio/ MANILA BULLETIN)

House Committee on Appropriations Senior Vice Chairperson and Marikina City 2nd district Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo authored and filed House Resolution (HR) No.762 for this purpose.

“Congress must exercise its oversight functions on the implementation of the General Appropriations Act, particularly the use of the budget allocated to the PhilSys project, in order to enact a national budget with funding for programs, activities, and projects that would serve the Filipino people," she wrote in the measure filed last Feb. 9.

In justifying the inquiry, Quimbo noted that committees have oversight responsibilities to determine whether or not laws and programs addressing subjects within their jurisdictions are being implemented and carried out in accordance with the intent of Congress.

In the three-page resolution, Quimbo noted how the national ID project has underdelivered so far.

Signed into law on Aug. 5, 2018, Republic Act (RA) No. 11055 or the Philippine Identification System Act established the PhilSys, part of which is the Philippine Identification card (PhilID). The PhilID is designed to simplify both public and private transactions.

The three-page resolution noted that the project originally targeted the production of 10 million cards in 2020, 40 million in 2021, 42 million in 2022, and 24 million in 2023. This amounts to a total of 116 million cards from 2020 to 2023.

On Oct. 7, 2019, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the supply of 116 million PhilID cards by the end of 2023, for a total budget of P3.4 billion.

During the House budget deliberations last year, the PSA told solons that it aimed to release 92 million PhilID cards by the end of 2022.

But Quimbo said that as of Jan. 26, 2023, only around 29.8 million PhilID cards, or 32.4 percent of the original cumulative target were dispatched to the Philippine Postal Corp. for delivery.

As of Jan. 20, 2023, only 22.6 million PhilID cards were delivered to registrants, the resolution stated. The BSP attributed the delay to the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic.

And then there are the criticisms on the quality--or lack thereof--of the ID cards themselves.

"The quality of produced and delivered PhilID cards did not meet the requirement provided in the Terms of Reference; thus causing delay to the PhilSys project of the government," Quimbo said, citing a report from the Commission on Audit (COA).

Quimbo noted that Congress has appropriated P22.1 billion for the implementation of RA No.11055 from 2018 to 2023. However, budget utilization data from PSA showed that its disbursement from 2018 to 2022 reached just P13.9 billion or 69.2 percent of the appropriations.